The righteous will live by faith. Romans 1:17
The Book of Romans was written from Corinth during the Apostle Paul’s 3rd visit to that city (c. A.D. 57-58). It is a theological treatise as well as a letter. It is the most complete exposition in the New Testament of the central truths of Christianity.
The theme of the Epistle is “the gospel of God”. This is the widest possible designation of the whole body of redemption truth. It relates to the whole world because there is “no partiality” with Him who is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles also. Accordingly all humanity is found guilty and a justification is revealed which is sufficient for man’s need and received through faith alone.
Romans states the divine provision of God’s grace whereby He is able to declare sinners as righteous through the atoning work of His righteous Son. It goes on to set forth the nature of the new life which all justified persons may enjoy through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Following this, the Epistle reveals God’s sovereign wisdom and grace in working out His purpose through the unfaithfulness of Israel. It closes by laying upon all Christians the obligation of recipients of the mercies of God to live lives of consecrated service. The key expression of the book is “the righteousness of God”.
It was through Romans that the monk, Martin Luther, rediscovered the great truth of justification by faith, and began the Reformation which reshaped much of the Western World.
New Scofield Study Bible, New American Standard
Richards’ Complete Bible Handbook, Lawrence O. Richards
Romans 1 – 3
God’s Righteousness and Wrath against Unrighteousness of Men
God’s righteousness is revealed in his wrath against mankind, for men wickedly suppress the truth about him. God can be known, for he communicates himself in the creation. Furthermore, God presents himself directly to the human conscience. No human being lives up even to his own standards.
For the wrath of God is revealed from the heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 1:18, 10
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them. 1:14, 15
Men and society demonstrate the impact of this rejection of God. Sexual perversion and every kind of wickedness is expressed in interpersonal relationships.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity… God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice… 1:24, 28, 29
Warning against Hypocrisy & Self-righteousness
Paul warns hypocrites of their judgmental attitude. Great knowledge of God should have produced humility and repentance.
O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 2:3
You who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? 2:21
There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. 2:9-11
God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. 2:16
Justification by Faith in Christ
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 3:23-26
Call for Righteousness
Acceptance of being unrighteous might be one of the hardest things for us grownups to do. We may be willing to accept it collectively as humans. But, it’s harder to do so on an individual level.
It’s hard for me. I’m like my dog reluctantly being washed. To live with us, not being washed is not an option. I go through the motion likewise. Then I feel good. I may even be overcome with joy like my dog after his bath running around like crazy and jumping into the bed feeling that he’s worthy to do so now.
I also consider God’s motive. He is like a Tiger mom who would say to her offspring, “You disappoint me. You should know better. I made you to look after me. You are part of me.”
We don’t have such high expectations for our creation. I don’t get upset at my Roomba or even at my beloved Apple products for not measuring up to me. They are disposable – good only until their next release.
God created us differently. He made us to last forever. Not as passive objects but beings made according to his own image. So we are not just cleansed and made righteous as passive beings. We must respond to His call for righteousness. That’s all we need to do. Accept and have faith in what he has done for us.
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